Friday, June 30, 2017


So since the cat is officially out of the bag on Facebook, I feel like it's okay to mention here on the blog. Arrowhead Creek Stables (where Ruby is boarded) has moved!
New commute, driveway to driveway.

This is exciting for me for a few reasons, mostly involving the fact that my horse is now less than 5 minutes away (I could probably jog to the barn, work my horse and then jog home -- you know, if I were inclined to jog... haha). It's also cool because the barn owner got to design the place from scratch -- while the old barn was nice, there were definitely some limitations due to the layout and the land, and while she did the best she could to work around those, the new place is going to be much better laid out. I'm also excited that the horses will have grass turnouts! And both the indoor and outdoor will be bigger.

Ruby was unconcerned about the move -- if there's hay, she's happy.
I won't miss the shitty gravel roads I had to drive to get to the old barn, the uncomfortably low ceiling in the aisle, or the half an hour round trip drive to go see my horse (I know half an hour isn't long, but when I'm trying to keep 2 horses in work, keep up with the farm, work a full time job plus commute 10 hours a week, every minute counts).
Barn door vista, for you Emma!
For now, construction is still ongoing, so I don't have a ton of pics. But I anticipate as things continue to be finished up and I get to (hopefully) spend more time with my horse, I will have a ton!
The horses enjoying the grass! (I stole this pic from the barn's FB page)
The only thing I'm sad about is losing access to my favorite trails :( they're going to be hard to live without. But at least now that Ruby is only a mile down the road, she will be easy to pick up for our trail riding adventures, so hopefully I can get her and Cinna out on the trails together soon!
That's why my ride Tuesday was so bittersweet.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Misty Mornings

Monday I took the day off work to drive up and visit my brother and his family -- my newest nephew was born last week, so I wanted to go and snuggle him, and hang with my other nephew too (and bring him a little horse shaped stress ball I got at Rolex -- best aunt ever!). It was a really fun day, but the 6+ hours in the car meant I didn't have time to do much with the horses besides chores.

I made up for that the next morning by heading out to the barn for an early morning trail ride on Ruby. We were still experiencing unseasonably cool weather (I wore a light jacket on my ride!), and Ruby felt wonderful. The last few trail rides she was exceptionally bothered by bugs, leading to some obnoxious head shaking and refusals to stand still. We had none of that Tuesday morning -- she ambled along at a sedate (but swinging!) pace, and let me stop her for frequent photos. It was an absolutely idyllic ride. Also a little bittersweet, but that's something I'll expound upon later.
This tree fell near the creek between my last ride and Tuesday -- I rode up next to it and the root system was taller than me on Ruby!

That serenity stayed with me through the rest of the week, even as I had to deal with DH bringing home another goat, boat shopping, shenanigans at work, and a mile long to do list. I finally feel like I'm getting caught up on things, and I'm really looking forward to a long weekend -- next Tuesday is a state holiday, so I took Monday off. That gives me both a four day weekend, and three entire days with DH! Hopefully the weather is nice so we can do some trail riding. Apparently we also have some appointments to look at boats... and with my luck, we'll probably do some hay hauling too.
New goat.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baby's Big Adventure: Indian Camp Creek Trail

I mean I guess at this point I should stop calling her a baby, and she has had quite a few “adventures”, but still. She’s always going to be my baby. And we’re still very much in a “baby brain” mentality, so it is what it is. Anyway. I started to type out some lengthy thoughts on my training processes with each of my different horses, but it got so long I think that needs to be it’s own post. So to sum it up now (so I can finish this trail ride recap haha), Cinna needs more life experience. Giving her that life experience is sometimes not necessarily fun for me, but it’s absolutely VITAL if I want to turn her into a solid citizen. And I want all of my horses to be solid citizens not only because it makes my life infinitely more fun, but it also makes it much more likely for them to land softly in case anything ever happens and they need to find new homes. 
Good citizens are more marketable. Trust me.

Sunday, we went on a trail ride at Indian Camp Creek that was definitely a great life experience for Cinna. She still hasn’t been off the farm that much (especially if you compare her to Ruby at the same age), so I always kind of have a “prepare for the worst, but hope for the best” mentality for outings like these. This is the third trail ride off the farm I’ve taken her on, and I’ve been very strategically visiting different trails where she’ll experience a variety of things. Her first off-farm trail ride was at the Katy Trail – there are no technical questions at this trail, it’s just wide, flat gravel. This let me focus on getting her past scary “obstacles”, including pedestrians, cyclists, and bridges. While she had a few panicky moments, overall she took confidence from her trail buddies (my older geldings), and I was pretty pleased with how she handled all the new questions I asked of her (well, I guess our cyclist interactions could have gone slightly better, haha). Our second ride was last month at Rudolf Benitt, and the questions changed a little bit. The terrain and footing was more variable (slight hills and some creek crossings), but less pedestrian traffic to deal with. She stepped up to the plate there as well.

Those outings combined made me decide she was ready to try Indian Camp Creek Trail. ICC combines the heavy pedestrian/cyclist traffic of the Katy with the more technical questions and water crossings from RB – but the only way she’s going to get better at dealing with these things is if we go out and do them. So we went! We had an unseasonably cool weekend (highs of only 80!), and while I wanted to go riding Saturday, finishing up the arena lights took precedence. 
That light switch turns the arena lights on. They are D-O-N-E, DONE!

So I cleared my schedule and dragged my DH and mom out for the trail ride Sunday. Everyone else had the same idea we did, and the place was packed. 
Parking lot full of trailers!
Which was good, more life experiences for the baby horse! I simultaneously love and hate the water crossing at ICC – it’s the first big thing you have to deal with on the trail, and you can’t reach the main trail without crossing it. However, it’s wide enough that your horse actually has to CROSS it, they can’t just jump over (which is why I hate so many of the creek crossings on other trails). It’s fairly inviting in terms of being shallow and sandy, so that's a plus. But on a nice weekend day, it’s also filled with people splashing and playing (which can be a little intimidating for green horses -- no pictures of this, because I like living). As I expected, Cinna initially balked upon seeing the water, but with a little urging, she barged through as quickly as possible with her nose firmly anchored on Trigger’s butt. Obviously that’s not ideal, but she got through the first major question of the day, and we headed out on the main loop. The first mile or so was unpleasant because she was kind of jiggy and obnoxious, but once she settled in she was FANTASTIC.

We left the main trail twice to get in the creek again, in less populated areas, to let her get used to the water on her own terms. The first descent was pretty steep, and she was super concerned, so I got off and led her down (being very careful to stay out of her way and let her sort things out for herself) -- you could see the wheels turning as she managed to pick her way down, and then followed me out into the water with minimal hesitation. I let her splash around for a minute, then led her back out so I could climb back on (thanks fauxbarrys for making that possible, lol). 
Text break provided by a photo of one of the lakes we rode past.

She had a much easier time navigating the trail back up, and then was a rockstar for the next descent into the creek. This time she confidently struck out on her own, and had a blast pawing and playing in the water – so much so that she caught me by surprise when she dropped and tried to roll! I’m not a stranger to horses trying to roll in water, so every time she stopped to paw I moved her off pretty quickly, but she figured that one out quickly and just buckled and dropped without any pawing. Tragically DH was not filming this, because I would have loved to have it on camera, haha. I felt her start to go down so I had my feet kicked out of my stirrups prepared to get out of harm’s way, but I was able to get her back up without any actual rolling, so just my girth and stirrups got a little wet. Luckily the water wasn’t deep!

Confident that she had conquered the water and the up/down questions under her belt, we went back to the main trail to tackle her concern with cyclists – I think most of our problems on the Katy stemmed from some people not really understanding the rules of the trail and that they needed to yield to equestrians. Thankfully all of the cyclists we met this weekend at ICC were much better about giving us the space we needed to get past safely – in all of our interactions, the cyclists were willing to pull off the side of the trail a few feet and remain stationary while we walked past. I thanked them all profusely and explained she was a baby. 


This was also true of the other equestrians we met – depending on how the trail was set up, either our group or a group coming the other way would step off the trail and wait for the others to pass. Cinna did get hung up trying to pass a gray horse (I think she thought it was her mom?) but we all managed with no incidents. The only other notable event was a teleporting spook over a park bench that startled her when we rounded a curve – not sure how I stayed on, but we regrouped and then she got to examine the bench and get cookies from it, which made the rest of the benches we passed less terrifying. Cinna also handled me mucking around in my saddlebags (so I could drink iced tea and eat pretzels out of a crinkly noise bag) like a pro – although I’m not confident with her yet to do an entire trail on a loose rein (I am so spoiled with Ruby), we definitely had some slack rein moments where she just stretched out and motored on at a nice, swinging walk.

I also got to test out my friend’s latest paracord creation, something we’re jokingly calling a TNR (text ‘n ride). It allows you to snap your reins to a D-ring on your saddle. It will probably get way more use on Ruby than Cinna, but it was actually super helpful because towards the end of the ride Cinna shook her neck hard enough for the reins to pop over and both end up on one side of her neck (sort of not helpful for steering? lol). Thankfully she was calm enough at this point I could just lean forward and flip them back, so no disasters. 
I loaned the TNR to my mom briefly so I could get some photos of it in action!

We crossed the water easy peasy on our way back to the parking lot, and after a quick rubdown, the horses were back on the trailer for the drive home. Cinna was still tired the next morning – DH texted me a photo when he had to go get her for the farrier. Apparently she refused to get up, even letting him sit on her in the stall (which is NOT AT ALL normal behavior for her, haha). 
My phone glitched out for like the first 15 minutes, and then I paused it when we took a break in a shady area and forget to restart it right away (the gap on the right side of the map).
Sleepy Cinna on Monday.

So ultimately I am super pleased with her continuing development – with Ruby, the training process kind of went shows then trail rides, but I think with Cinna it’ll be the opposite. Building trust with her is a different process than it was with Ruby (which is fine, they’re totally different horses!) but adjusting my expectations is leading to some pretty fun outings for us. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to get her in the show ring some this year, but I think continuing to expose her to new trails and obstacles will only help her development as a solid riding horse.
Very happy with this sassy grey mare.

Monday, June 26, 2017

DIY: Boot Trees

While I think Olivia and Emma truly have the market cornered on functional DIY projects, and Aimee might be the queen of hysterical ones (or this one), I decided to put together a tutorial that LITERALLY ANYONE could follow for some inexpensive boots trees. I have actually been meaning to do this for ages -- it came up in conversation last week and then I spotted the supplies out shopping Saturday so I decided to go for it.
Cruce gets pretty judgemental about my DIY projects ;)
Step 1: Buy a pool noodle. Bonus points if it matches everything else you own. You can find pool noodles at the dollar store, but I splurged and paid $4 for this one from Menard's. #treatyoself
Step 2: Find a measuring tape and exacto knife (scissors or some other kind of cutting implement could also work, I just raided DH's tool shed and this seemed like the easiest way to do it).
Step 3: Decide how many boot trees you want. I was hoping for three pairs, but my pool noodle was a bit too short for that, so I went with two. This part involves MATH (I'm so sorry). My pool noodle was 58" long, so I went with four 14.5" pieces.
Unnecessary step: realize you have wayyyyyy too many pairs of boots. Figure out that two pairs have broken zippers, so shove them in a back corner of the tack room to take to the repair shop when you have time (aka, never).
Decide your show boots can keep the real boot trees, so put them back in their boot bag.
Prioritize that your old show boots (new schooling boots) should have pool noodle boot trees.
Decide these random synthetic field boots don't need trees, and shove them in a back corner of your tack shed with the broken zipper boots.
Decide the fauxbarrys deserve boot trees too. Realize you should probably give them some TLC, cause they look a little gross (and they looked even worse after they got dunked on a trail ride yesterday lol)
Step 4: Measure and cut! Not responsible for any damage to your digits if you're not careful with the knife.
Try not to cut off your fingers.
Step 5: Voila! DIY (cheap) boot trees. If you really want to class them up, you could probably cover them in patterned fabric or something. I'm just cheap and lazy, so this works for me!
So there you have it! Literally the easiest DIY ever. Normally I would advise adult beverages while you craft, but I didn't want to cut a finger off. So drink at your own risk ;)